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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Woodward has no fear
Clive Woodward
Woodward knows the expectations for England are high
Clive Woodward said he is not scared of England being labelled favourites for the forthcoming World Cup.

The England coach said his squad was "spot on", and insisted his players relished the task ahead of them.

"It's not a statement I'm scared of. I think we are favourites, along with the All Blacks," he said.

"It's bound to happen if you look at our recent results.

"But we're just going to play game by game. Being favourites means nothing at all, it's all about winning your next game."

Woodward admitted the he would have picked a different squad had he selected his 30-strong party before the recent warm-up Tests.

"If I'm brutally honest, if we'd picked the 30 players six weeks ago there'd be a few differences," said Woodward.

"It has allowed me to get it spot on in terms of picking the right 30 players."

I'm just really looking forward to the whole experience
Clive Woodward

Woodward had words of comfort for Simon Shaw and Graham Rowntree, who were both left out of the squad for the tournament, which starts in October in Australia.

"Simon Shaw and Graham Rowntree were the two toughest calls I've had to make," he said.

"They've done everything right and sometimes it's hard to explain to a player why they've been left out.

"The only comfort I have for them is that if there was an injury they'd be the first ones on the plane. Those two are the only two I feel bad about."

Woodward is going into the tournament in positive mood and believes England are better placed to succeed than last time out in 1999.

"I think a lot has happened since '99 in terms of how we prepare," he said.

"We've obviously got an outstanding squad. I think we have got the balance about right.

"I'm just really looking forward to the whole experience now."

Links to more England stories


England coach Clive Woodward
"I think we've got every chance"

England's Mike Catt
"It's great to be part of such a winning side"


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